State of Decay 2 Review – Feels Like Early Access
Five years after the original State of Decay, State of Decay 2 launches on the Xbox One with co-op. Has this been enough time to make a better zombie survival game, or does this feel like an expansion? Check out our review and find out.
State Of Decay 2 Review
State of Decay 2 is all about survival in the apocalypse. The world has gone downhill, and zombies make up most of the population. As a player, you start off with a small group of survivors and have to build up a base, a community, and the skills of different people to thrive. To do all of this, you need to go out and face the zombie hordes head on in search of weapons and other materials. While killing zombies is important, managing resources such as food and medicine is another significant part of the game. It’s a balancing act – stay out too long and your people suffer; come back to soon and you don’t get enough supplies. In the end, sacrifices will have to be made to ensure your community survives.
When it comes to fighting zombies, you have a few ways to bring them down. Melee weapons, guns, explosives, and even vehicles can get the job done. The melee combat is floaty and janky at times, but it works. Zombies will glide to you or over you, and you do the same during combat. You get used to it, but it isn’t ideal when you are fighting six or seven at a time. The other big issue comes when fighting inside. With all the floating and sliding, it becomes hard to hit enemies, and they will end up grabbing you. You can get around it by luring enemies outside, but there should have been more polish.
While facing basic zombies isn’t a massive issue during melee combat, State of Decay 2 has a few different zombies to deal with. Plague zombies are regular zombies, but each hit infects you with the Blood Plague. If the meter fills up, you get the Blood Plague, and you need to heal it or will turn into a zombie yourself. There are also Screamers (who scream and call other zombies to your location), Bloaters (which explode if you kill them), Feral Zombies (which are very fast and aggressive), and Brutes (which are tank zombies with insane strength). You will on occasion face humans as well, though this is pretty rare. Guns help with the more advanced zombies and enemy humans.
While there are issues with melee combat, shooting doesn’t suffer the same fate. There are downsides to using a gun though. Without a silencer, you draw more enemies in. However, with a silencer, your weapon will break down quicker. Still, there is no denying that a shotgun or assault rifle on automatic does way more work than any melee weapon. The ultimate zombie killing machine, however, is a vehicle. You can mow down hordes of the enemies with cars and trucks as long as they aren’t in a building. Much like guns though, vehicles break down after extended use, and you will have to repair them. Melee weapons also break down, but fixing or replacing them is way more convenient than fixing up cars and guns. All your tools for killing will break down, so having backups or repair tools is a must.
All of this plays into a more significant part of the game – inventory management. You only have so many slots for items and equipment, and the car can only fit so much crap. On top of killing materials, you need to worry about stamina and HP as well, so that ends up taking up some room. Even early on, you are always facing these problems. Do I need that? What should I bring back? That is one of the best things the game has going for it – no matter what is going on, you will always have something to do. Some factions will need a hand, some infestations will pop up, or you will need to grab some more supplies for your base. It’s a lot of busy work, which some players will enjoy and others hate. If you don’t keep on top of these problems, you get annoying radio messages and your community members might even threaten to leave.
Base management can be one of the more disappointing aspects of the game. You start off with a small home base, with a couple of slots for crafting new buildings. You can also claim a few outposts outside of your main base. As you progress, you will ultimately look for a new home base with more space and better built-in buildings. The problem with all this is that you can only have one main base and only a few outposts. The idea of the game is not to just survive, but to thrive. On top of this, you cannot take over an entire map, or even a quarter of it. In total, you can have one primary home base and up to six outposts with additional building mods. If you have the materials and people to expand further, you should be allowed to do so.
Only having one base leads to another problem as well. You cannot have all the facilities at one home base, which means you have to pick and choose. There is no logic behind this; that is just the way the game was designed. Expanding your home base should be an option so you can have everything you want to have without having to sacrifice certain buildings in your home. I thought this might be rectified by switching maps and getting a second home base, but that is not the case. If you change maps, you lose the base and outposts you have on the map you leave, giving you the same problem you have on the first map. All of this also means you cannot take over more than one map on a single playthrough, which again makes no sense.
You can have multiple communities, meaning that you can have one on each map. There is three maps total, and most of the buildings in each map are the same. The game has a number of reused assets, which again will upset certain players. Something that helps all of this is the fact that State of Decay 2 has co-op. Slogging through the same buildings multiple times is much better with a buddy. Having a real player lets you loot more and lets you take on harder fights. Sadly the co-op player doesn’t progress in their story, but the characters get their own loot and level up.
State of Decay 2 is not without its faults, and these faults are increased during co-op. I was playing on the original Xbox One, and frame drops are consistent. Floating zombies, glitching cars, and buggy AI are all prominent. While playing co-op, my game would stop for 5-10 seconds at a time while driving with my partner. Zombies spawn in after you finish driving, and you are all of sudden surrounded. The worst is when a Bloater spawns on the road, and you crash into it causing massive damage to you without you even being able to react. Textures don’t always load in, and then you have to wait for those to load in as well. I’d say this could be fixed with a day one patch, but a six gig patch came out on May 15, which is when the Ultimate Edition came out.
State of Decay 2 is going to be very hit and miss for a number of people. If you can ignore the flaws, there is a fun game to be had when played with a friend. That said, even if you ignore its flaws, you can’t deny that this game was not ready for release.